MILLIONS of people are expected to tune in to see Maryport’s Roman heritage excavated live on television as part of Channel 4 Time Team’s Big Dig.
Roman Maryport is one of nine sites around the country that will feature in the Channel 4 programme described as the most ambitious exploration of Roman Britain ever.
Archaeological excavations will start on Saturday on land next to the ancient Roman fort and the Senhouse Roman Museum.
A 30-strong film crew and a Time Team presenter will be in town at the start of July to film a live broadcast of the excavation of a Roman building found on the edge of the site three years ago. It is thought this maybe the remains of an even older fort dating back to the pre-Hadrian era.
There will also be an excavation of part of the recreation ground next to the museum, where it is believed a Roman parade ground once stood.
Pupils from neighbouring Maryport Junior School will be shown on TV helping out with the dig led by Paul Fylnn, a lecturer of archaeology at the Cumbria Institute of the Arts, and organised by Maryport and District Archaeological Society.
Museum manager and society secretary Jane Laskey contacted Time Team last year to nominate Maryport for the programme and it was chosen from 500 other runners.
She said: “I thought Maryport should at least be nominated but I never thought it would make it through.”
Maryport is the northern most site in the Big Dig, which will also feature Heronbridge in Cheshire, Kenchester in Herefordshire and Charterhouse in Somerset.
Mrs Laskey said this was a major development for the town, which could potentially attract thousands of visitors. She has warned town centre bosses that Maryport should be braced for a summer invasion.
She added: “It will be brilliant for Maryport, when a small exploratory excavation featured in a national newspaper a few years ago, it attracted hundreds of people from all over the country. This programme will be watched by millions.”